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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Tuesday / May 22.
  • Big East advocating ‘none or two’ rule to replace one-and-done

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    By ADAM ZAGORIA

    BOSTON — Amid a growing debate within basketball circles about the future of the NBA’s so-called “one-and-done rule,” the Big East has offered up an alternative proposal.

    The league on Wednesday released “a series of recommendations aimed at reforming the recruiting process in men’s college basketball and restructuring the pathway for elite men’s basketball players in the United States.”

    Among their recommendations is replacing one-and-done — the NBA rule that requires players be 19 years old and one year removed from their high school graduating class to enter the NBA Draft — with the so-called “none or two” mandate.

    “The NCAA should urge the NBA and National Basketball Players Association to create a ‘none or two’ draft eligibility rule to afford elite players greater flexibility to explore their professional options directly out of high school,” the Big East statement says. “Players electing to enroll in an NCAA institution would become eligible for the NBA draft following their second NCAA season.”

    Major League Baseball’s rule is that players can become professional out of high school or choose to enter college, but they can’t be drafted until after their junior or senior years.

    Villanova coach Jay Wright, who has built a perennial national college basketball power without ever having a single one-and-done player, says he and the other Big East coaches support the recommendations, and that he believes that high school players should be able to go straight to the NBA if they’re qualified.

    The “one-and-done” rule went into effect with the 2006 NBA Draft. Prior to that, players like Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and LeBron James went straight from the preps to the pros.

    Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman “talked to all the coaches about that stuff and the athletic directors, and in general, we’re all in agreement with that paper she produced,” Wright said here Thursday ahead of Friday’s Sweet 16 matchup with West Virginia. “We are all in agreement.”

    He added: “I just think there should be a relationship with the NCAA and the NBA because the whole issue is an NBA issue. These players should be allowed to come out of high school and go right to the NBA if they’re good enough, and if they’re good enough to be potential NBA players, they shouldn’t have to go to college if they don’t want to. They should be given an opportunity in the G League to earn the amount of money that they’re worth and not have to go to college.

    “One of the problems — not all the problems — in college is some players are being forced to go, and coaches are being forced to coach guys that don’t want to be in college, and that’s on the NBA. It’s not on the NCAA. The NBA should provide an opportunity for them to go to the G League and be developed in the G League if they don’t want to be educated and go to college. So we’re putting kids in a tough spot. We’re putting college coaches in a tough spot.”

    Asked if he had ever coached a player who didn’t want to be in college, Wright said, “Yes.”

    Despite never having a one-and-done, Wright and Villanova won the NCAA championship in 2016 and remain alive for a second title in three years.

    Since the one-and-done era, only Kentucky in 2012 and Duke in 2015 have captured NCAA titles while relying on one-and-done players. North Carolina’s Tony Bradley came off the bench last season as a freshman for their championship team before heading to the NBA Draft.

    Villanova’s Mikal Bridges, a junior wing, is a projected NBA lottery pick, while junior point guard Jalen Brunson is a projected second-round pick who will graduate in three years.

    Brunson, the son of former NBA player Rick Brunson, said players should be able to “have their own decision” on entering the NBA Draft.

    “If they feel like they’re ready to go to the NBA straight out of high school, let them make that decision,” he said. “With the Big East doing that, they’re just trying to implement ways to make college basketball better. Guys who want to be in college, make sure they stay in college, and guys that want to go to the NBA, just let them go straight out of high school.

    “It’s in the best interests for college basketball just to throw out ideas so they can all come to an agreement and find a way to make college basketball better.”

    Said Bridges: “I feel like the same way. If they feel like they’re ready coming out of high school, then it’s a blessing on them to go to the NBA. But I see what the Big East is doing too, trying to make it even more competitive, which is probably would be if people who are particularly like a top five pick who stay an extra year, that would be more competitive.”

    West Virginia coach Bob Huggins, whose program left the Big East in 2012, said he hasn’t had a one-and-done player since 2000 but is in favor of college players spending more time on campus to develop.

    “I’ve always thought the more time that young people could spend on a college campus, the better prepared they’re going to be for life,” he said. “Whether it’s one, two, three, or four, you’re going to be more prepared for life.

    “You think back about the difference when you were 18 years old and coming out of high school and the difference when you were 21, 22 years old coming out of college, and that has a lot to do with a lot of things. I mean, you experience more things. Obviously, hopefully, you come out a whole lot more educated and prepared for whatever it is that you decide to do with your life.”

    Wright has repeatedly said he’s in favor of adding one-and-done players at Villanova, but only if they fit into the program’s broader values. He has lost out on recruiting some one-and-done type players, and told others that they simply weren’t the right fit.

    “I don’t want it out there that I’m against one-and-dones,” Wright said. “I don’t want it out there that I don’t want them. I want them. We try. Certain ones, we really try. We just lost a local one that’s a great kid, and he’s going to be very successful, and he picked a great school, but we wanted him.”

    ***

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.